Building Green



Narrator: MORE THAN 300 HUNDRED YEARS AGO,
WILLIAM PENN PLANNED FOR HIS BELOVED CITY OF PHILADELPHIA TO BE A "GREEN COUNTRY TOWN,"
RECOMMENDING THAT THERE BE AMPLE ROOM FOR GARDENS, ORCHARDS, AND FIELDS TO MAKE THE
CITY WHOLESOME AND BEAUTIFUL. THE HISTORIC CITY WAS THE FIRST IN THE COUNTRY TO DELIVER
CLEAN DRINKING WATER TO ITS CITIZENS USING STATE-OF-THE-ART WATER TREATMENT, AND IN 1855,
HAD THE FORESIGHT TO BEGIN PURCHASING LAND ALONG THE SCHUYKILL RIVER TO HELP PROTECT
THE CITY'S DRINKING WATER SUPPLY. TODAY, THE CITY IS EMBRACING GREEN TECHNIQUES TO INFILTRATE,
CAPTURE AND TREAT STORMWATER ON-SITE. THESE TECHNIQUES REPLICATE THE NATURAL HYDROLOGIC
CYCLE AND ARE A FORWARD-THINKING SOLUTION TO THE AGE-OLD PROBLEM OF RUNOFF. INSTEAD
OF USING PIPES AND TUNNELS, THE GOAL IS TO SLOW THE WATER DOWN, SPREAD IT OUT AND SOAK
IT IN USING INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS. Howard Neukrug: WATER IS EXTREMELY VALUABLE
UNTIL IT HITS THE STORMWATER INLET, THEN IT BECOMES A WASTE PRODUCT. INSTEAD OF TAKING
THAT RAIN WATER, WHICH IS PERFECTLY GOOD WATER, AND, AND HAVING IT GO INTO OUR SEWER SYSTEM,
WE CAN INFILTRATE THAT, THAT WATER INTO, INTO THE GROUND THEREBY HELPING THE GROUND WATER,
HELPING OUR RIVERS AND STREAMS, HELPING THE ECOLOGY, AND SAVING US SOME MONEY AND ENERGY
IN MANAGING AND TREATING WHAT RAINWATER THEN BECOMES A WASTE PRODUCT IN OUR SEWER SYSTEM.
Narrator: GREEN TECHNIQUES BEAUTIFY AND COOL CITIES, MINIMIZE FLOODING AND REDUCE THE NEED
FOR COSTLY PIPES AND TUNNELS TO MANAGE STORMWATER. PHILADELPHIA'S ONION FLATS LLC IS SYNONYMOUS
WITH BUILDING AND COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY. THROUGH THEIR DEVELOPMENT/DESIGN/BUILD COLLECTIVE,
THEY ARE ABLE TO DESIGN BUILDINGS WITH THE HIGHEST RATINGS FOR ENERGY AND WATER EFFICIENCY,
WHILE MEETING THE BOTTOM LINE. THE CITY NOW OFFERS INCENTIVES TO BUILDERS AND DEVELOPERS
TO MEET CLEAN WATER AND OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL GOALS BUT ONION FLATS WAS AN EARLY INNOVATOR
WHO HAS LEAD THE WAY BY EXAMPLE. Pat McDonald: WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT DESIGN,
ESPECIALLY SUSTAINABLE DESIGN, IT'S IMPORTANT TO HAVE EVERYBODY AT THE TABLE AT THE SAME
TIME, RIGHT FROM THE VERY START; SO FROM THE CONCEPTION TO THE END OF THE PROJECT. NORMALLY
MOST PROJECTS ARE DONE WITH ENGINEERS, BUILDERS, DEVELOPERS IN DIFFERENT ROOMS AT DIFFERENT
TIMES ALL WANTING THE SAME THING, BUT ENDING UP IN SUCH DIFFERENT KIND OF PARTS OF THE
PROJECT AND WITH DIFFERENT KIND OF IDEAS, YOU DON'T HAVE THE INTEGRATIVE APPROACH. WE'VE
ALWAYS MADE IT BE VERY, VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE'RE ALL ALIGNED FROM THE VERY, VERY START.
AND IT MAKES IT EASY WHEN WE'RE ALL THE SAME PEOPLE.
Howard Steinberg: FOR US, DESIGNING BUILDINGS, DEVELOPING BUILDINGS ISN'T ABOUT BEING GREEN.
IT, IT'S ABOUT A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT TO BUILDING PRACTICES.
OUR, OUR PRIMARY FOCUS IS TO DESIGN BUILDINGS THAT ARE MODELS OF SUSTAINABILITY TO SHOW
THAT IT, IT NEED NOT COST ANYMORE TO BUILD GREEN.
Pat McDonald: THE COST OF BUILDING SUSTAINABLY IS NO MORE, ULTIMATELY THAN BUILDING A STANDARD
CODE HOUSE. IN THIS EXAMPLE, FOR INSTANCE, THIN FLATS, THE HOUSES ARE SELLING IN A MARKET
THAT'S NOT SELLING, AT MARKET VALUE – WHICH IS UNHEARD OF RIGHT NOW.
Narrator: IN 2009 ONION FLATS COMPLETED THE THIN FLATS DEVELOPMENT. LOCATED IN THE NORTHERN
LIBERTIES NEIGHBORHOOD OF PHILADELPHIA, THIN FLATS IS THE FIRST LEED CERTIFIED PLATINUM
DUPLEX IN THE UNITED STATES. LEED STANDS FOR LEADERSHIP IN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN
AND IS AN INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION STANDARD. THIN FLATS
PROMOTES LOW IMPACT LIFESTYLES THAT SUPPORT THE CITY'S MANDATE TO PROTECT WATER QUALITY.
Pat McDonald: WE'RE SITTING HERE RIGHT NOW AT THIN FLATS IN PHILADELPHIA. THEY CONSIST
OF EIGHT UNITS THAT ARE DUPLEXES, STACKED ON TOP OF EACH OTHER; ONE AT THE LOWER LEVEL
WITH TWO FLOORS, AND ONE AT THE TOP LEVEL. IT CONSISTS OF PEOPLE OF ALL DIFFERENT TYPES,
SIZES, SHAPES AND COLORS AND IT IS, AH, MOSTLY PEOPLE THAT ARE INTERESTED IN LOWERING THEIR
UTILITY BILLS BY SIXTY PERCENT OR MORE. PEOPLE THAT WANT TO LIVE IN A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
WITH LOTS OF LIGHT AND LOTS OF FRESH AIR. Narrator: THE ROOF ON EACH UPPER-LEVEL DUPLEX
NOT ONLY PROVIDES AN OUTDOOR LIVABLE SPACE, BUT ALSO CAPTURES AND TREATS STORMWATER. THESE
GREEN ROOFS HOLD A LAYER OF GROWING MEDIUM, WHERE PLANTS SUCH AS SEDUM, ORNAMENTAL GRASSES
AND EVEN SUNFLOWERS GROW AND HELP CAPTURE STORMWATER RUNOFF. WITHOUT THE GREEN ROOF,
THE RUNOFF WOULD GO DIRECTLY INTO THE CITY'S SEWER SYSTEM.
Howard Steinberg: ON THE GREEN ROOF AS YOU CAN SEE, THESE PAVERS HAVE SPACES BETWEEN
THEM ALLOWING THAT WATER TO ALSO RECHARGE WITHIN THE GREEN ROOF SYSTEM. THE GREEN ROOF
IS ACTUALLY PURIFYING THE WATER THAT'S GOING INTO FIRST THE GREEN ROOF, AND THEN BYPASSED
TO BEYOND. IN OUR PROJECT AT THIN FLATS WE ACTUALLY CAPTURE THAT WATER IN A RAIN WATER
HARVESTING TANK. AH, THE GREEN ROOF HAS TREMENDOUS VALUE IN TERMS OF ONGOING MAINTENANCE OF A,
OF A ROOF. THERE'S A PHYSICAL ROOF MEMBRANE, LIKE ANY OTHER ROOF, BUT THAT MEMBRANE NOW
IS NOT EXPOSED TO THE SUN. SO IT'S NOT SUBJECTED TO THE UV DEGRADATIONS. THE ROOF WILL LAST
TWO TO THREE TIMES LONGER THAN IF IT WERE EXPOSED.
Ross Donolow: THE GREEN ROOF IS GREAT BECAUSE IT'S, IT'S AN OASIS. YOU KNOW, YOU CAN GET
AWAY FROM THE CITY AND WHAT'S DOWN BELOW AND YOU'RE COVERED BY, YOU KNOW, FAUNA AND FLOWERS
AND PLANTS AND YOU CAN ENTERTAIN UP HERE. UM, IT'S GOT, YOU KNOW, WALKWAYS THAT YOU
CAN PUT YOUR GRILL ON AND YOU CAN HAVE PEOPLE UP HERE. AND IT'S, IT'S SPECTACULAR. YOU HAVE
A VIEW OF THE CITY. Narrator: STORMWATER RUNOFF FROM THIN FLATS'
GREEN ROOFS AND PORCHES TRAVELS THROUGH DOWNSPOUTS AND IS DELIVERED TO RAINWATER HARVESTING TANKS,
OR CISTERNS. THESE CISTERNS ARE LOCATED UNDER THE REAR PARKING AREA AND CAN STORE SEVERAL
THOUSAND GALLONS. THE WATER CAN THEN BE USED FOR CAR WASHING AND IRRIGATION AMONG OTHER
USES THROUGH THE NUMEROUS HYDRANTS THAT ARE LOCATED ON THE PROPERTY. WATER CONSERVATION
PRACTICES WERE ALSO INCORPORATED INTO THE INTERIORS OF THIN FLATS.
Howard Steinberg: SO AS PART OF OUR ATTENTION TO WATER CONSERVATION, WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE
BATHROOMS, WE LOOK AT LOW-FLOW FIXTURES, LOW-FLOW FAUCETS, DUAL FLUSH TOILETS. AGAIN, IT'S ALL
ABOUT WATER CONSERVATION. Pat McDonald: WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT A
SUSTAINABLE APPROACH (IN) THE MAINTENANCE ON A SUSTAINABLE BUILDING, IF IT'S THOUGHT
OUT WELL, AND WE LIKE TO BELIEVE THAT WE THINK THINGS THROUGH, THEN THE MAINTENANCE SHOULD
BE NO MORE INTENSIVE THAN ANY STANDARD BUILDING. AND IN A LOT OF CASES, A LOT LESS INTENSIVE.
Narrator: BEING AN ENERGY STAR PARTNER IS PART OF ONION FLATS' SUSTAINABLE APPROACH.
TO DATE THEY HAVE BUILT 11 HOMES THAT ARE ENERGY STAR CERTIFIED, INCLUDING THIN FLATS.
BY CHOOSING ENERGY STAR, HOMEOWNERS AND BUSINESSES CAN SAVE MONEY ON THEIR UTILITY BILLS. ACCORDING
TO 2008 ESTIMATES, THE ENERGY STAR PROGRAM SAVED AMERICANS $18 BILLION ON UTILITY BILLS.
Pat McDonald: THE BENEFIT OF BEING AN ENERGY STAR PARTNER FOR ONION FLATS IS THAT WE'RE
PUTTING THE BEST APPLIANCES INTO THE HOMES WITH THE BEST EFFICIENCY. IT MAKES SENSE THAT
WE USE ENERGY STAR PRODUCTS IN OUR HOMES. Narrator: AND NEW HOME BUYERS ARE TAKING INTO
CONSIDERATION SUSTAINABILITY AND GREEN TECHNIQUES WHEN SELECTING A NEW HOME.
Ross Donolow: I'VE LIVED AT THIN FLATS SINCE MARCH FIRST, 2009. IT WAS PLACE THAT WAS A
LOT OF DETAIL AND THOUGHT WENT INTO IT. SO THAT, THAT DREW ME IMMEDIATELY BECAUSE I KNEW
THERE WAS A PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING AND IT WAS, IT WAS DONE VERY INTELLIGENTLY. THIS
HAS BEEN CONSIDERED THE FIVE-MINUTE COMMUNITY. WHICH MEANS YOU CAN GET ANYWHERE IN FIVE MINUTES.
I'M DRIVING A WHOLE LOT LESS. UM, I HAVE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION HERE. SO I'M NOT USING MY CAR
ANYWHERE NEAR AS MUCH AS I WOULD. THERE'S STORES AND RESTAURANTS, AND, AND YOU'RE LIVING
IN SOMETHING THAT'S VERY GREEN AND SUSTAINABLE. SOMETHING THAT'S SAVING ENERGY AND SOMETHING
THAT LOOKS ESTHETICALLY JUST, JUST INCREDIBLE. IT'S JUST AN INCREDIBLE PLACE TO LIVE.
Narrator: THE APPLICATION OF GREEN TECHNIQUES TO CONTROL STORMWATER IS GAINING IN POPULARITY
ACROSS THE COUNTRY. IN THE VAST MAJORITY OF CASES, THE U.S. EPA HAS FOUND THAT IMPLEMENTING
WELL-CHOSEN GREEN TECHNIQUES CAN SAVE MONEY FOR DEVELOPERS, OWNERS AND COMMUNITIES, ALONG
WITH HELPING TO PROTECT AND RESTORE WATER QUALITY, REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION, AND IMPROVE
THE QUALITY OF LIFE. Patrick McDonald: WE LIKE TO CONSIDER THE
THREE, THE THREE P APPROACH: PEOPLE, PLANET AND PROFIT. IF YOU DON'T CONSIDER PEOPLE AND
THEIR NEEDS, THAT'S NOT GONNA WORK. IF YOU DON'T CONSIDER THE PROFIT, THE PLANET, IT'S
NOT GOING TO WORK BECAUSE, ESPECIALLY IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, IT'S VERY, VERY IMPORTANT TO
LOOK AT OUR ENVIRONMENT AS SOMETHING THAT WE'VE GIVEN ONE OF AND CREATE IT AS SOMETHING
THAT WE'RE RESPONSIBLE FOR. AND THEN PROFIT. IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT FEASIBLE FOR SOMEONE
TO MAKE A PROFIT OUT OF IT OR TO EARN AN INCOME FROM IT, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE SUSTAINABLE.
WE NEED TO THINK AS A SOCIETY, HOW RESPONSIBLE DO I NEED TO BE WHEN I DESIGN AND BUILD A
PROPERTY TO EVERYONE ELSE? AND MY ANSWER TO THAT IS: EXTREMELY RESPONSIBLE.

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